Sharks chew up, spit out sluggish Blues

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After the Blues strung together a 2-1 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final with what could be described as less than their best game, Ken Hitchcock wanted to see more the next time out. Throughout these playoffs, Hitchcock has called his players “hungry.” Unlike past teams, it seemed, the 2016 St. Louis Blues had some extra ‘want-to’ on their road to the Stanley Cup.

On Tuesday night, however, the hunger was noticeably absent form the St. Louis lineup. The Blues looked ugly in Game 2, slogging their way to a 3-0 loss at Scottrade Center, evening the series at one game apiece. After such a disappointing effort, it was unsurprising to see the team reading for the ‘we’ll fix it’ script.

The Sharks came out firing in the first period. Shots on goal favored San Jose by only a slim margin, but the Sharks controlled the pace of play with fast and physical skating. The Blues were outclassed for the duration.

It didn’t take long for the Sharks to jump on the board; Tommy Wingels placed a softy past Brian Elliott. Elliott surrendered three goals on the night, with an empty-netter serving as the final tally inside a somber Scottrade Center.

St. Louis struggled to keep the puck out of their own defensive end, as the Sharks enjoyed prolonged possessions. The Blues looked sluggish. They failed to register much of a threat during a power play chance early in the second period. At times, they were flat-out sloppy with the puck.

The Blues were feeble in the offensive zone. A Patrick Marleau hi-sticking penalty 32 seconds into the third period gave the Blues a golden opportunity to turn things around. But their puck handling was just as bad as it had been in the first forty minutes. During the four-minute power play, they barely required Martin Jones to participate—as soon as they’d enter the offensive zone, an errant pass would allow for the Sharks to clear the puck.

With the majority of the third period still in front of them following the poor power play, it already felt like the Blues were too far overmatched to mount a comeback effort. They established some zone time after pulling the goalie late, but the Sharks empty-netter appropriately sealed a forgettable evening for St. Louis.

Sometimes when a team takes a bad loss, it’s a great credit to the winning team for forcing them into their mistakes. That wasn’t necessarily the case Tuesday night. The lopsided outcome had less to do with the Sharks performance, and more to do with the Blues lifeless attempt at playoff hockey.

The lone positive Blues news of the day came off the ice; Tuesday morning, Vladimir Tarasenko and his wife Yana welcomed their first child, baby Alexander, into the world prior to Game 2. Tarasenko played in the game, but like each of his teammates, did not score a goal.

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